Brodie Farquhar: Trump’s behavior explained by Freudian theory |

Brodie Farquhar: Trump’s behavior explained by Freudian theory

I’m certainly not a trained psychologist, but I suspect Freudian theory might help us understand political behavior — particularly that of Donald Trump and his most ardent supporters.

First a refresher course on Dr. Freud’s theories about Id, Ego and Super-Ego.

Id is is that part of the mind that is primal, self-centered and even savage. Think about a 2-year-old having a melt-down in a store when denied a toy. Or consider the civilized private school kids who descended into savagery in “Lord of the Flies,” when shipwrecked and struggling for survival. A more extreme example might be a sociopathic killer hunting a new victim. Not a “nice” category, but perhaps essential to self-survival and preservation of the self.

Super-Ego is that part of your mind that acts as a self-critical conscience, reflecting social standards learned from parents and teachers. Think Jiminy Cricket cautioning Pinocchio, or consider the great religious and philosophical teachers and how you try to live up to their injunctions.

Then there is Ego — that part of the mind that mediates between Id and Super-Ego, finding workable compromises between “I want” and “I should.” That’s where most of us exist day to day.

Now what about Trump? My theory is that he is Id writ large. He wants, needs, demands, grabs what he wants: money, sex, power. Whatever Super-Ego exists in his mind, I judge, is severely atrophied from lack of exercise. When, for example, has he ever taken the high road?

So with a swollen Id and a shrunken, weak Super-Ego, what is the state of Trump’s Ego? Mostly seeking ways to satisfy an insatiable Id.

What does this theory have to do with all the ardent MAGA-hat wearers? As a group, I believe they lack a strong Super-Ego, and they actively like, admire and applaud Trump’s Id, because their own Ids exist in Trump’s neighborhood.

Trump is saying things they’ve always thought and believed but were hesitant to express. With Trump braying about greed and hate and fear, MAGA folk are essentially permitted to do the same.

When Trump, MAGAs and Republicans complain about political correctness, they are really complaining about society’s Super-Ego — those injunctions that are hard to live up to. Things like empathy, honor, generosity, humility, kindness to strangers and forgiveness. They celebrate a brand of capitalism that is pure Id: greed is good, regulations that protect others are bad.

Think about it.


Brodie Farquhar

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User

Letter to the Editor

Letter: It’s not worth risking the kids

If we see a child floundering in a lake, playing on the tracks with a train coming or simply taking a bad fall from a bicycle, most adults will take immediate action to keep the…

See more